Nicola Sturgeon suffered Brexit blow after Norway’s crushing verdict on EFTA entry

Sturgeon criticises Boris Johnson over 'missed opportunity'

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Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is determined to hold a second referendum on independence as soon as the coronavirus pandemic is over, despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson firmly resisting the pressure. The Scottish National Party (SNP)’s goal is for Scotland to leave the UK so that the country can rejoin the EU. Over the last few years, though, there have been conflicting claims regarding the country’s accession to the bloc.

An independent Scotland would now border a non-EU country, likely requiring infrastructure and border checks between regions whose communities are deeply intertwined – similar to the problem of the Irish border that severely complicated Brexit talks.

Scotland could also be rejected by Brussels due to its current deficit of seven percent of GDP, unless it adopted a strict austerity programme from the EU as well as potentially adopting the euro.

Moreover, new members can only be allowed into the bloc through a unanimous vote from the existing member states – and Holyrood would undoubtedly ruffle feathers if it were to join.

Even becoming part of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) – the regional trade organisation and free trade area consisting of four European states: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland – could be an issue for Scotland.

According to a throwback report by The Telegraph, after the 2016 EU referendum, Ms Sturgeon would have liked Scotland to join the association, as she wanted Holyrood to remain in the Single Market.

However, she immediately suffered a damaging blow as Norway’s former Trade Minister Monica Maeland ruled it out.

At a meeting of ministers of the four EFTA members in Geneva, she claimed Scotland did not have the competence to join the organisation “for now”.

Speaking as it emerged that former First Minister Alex Salmond had held informal talks with EFTA members in Switzerland, Ms Maeland said the Scottish government should have spoken to the UK Government instead as it was “an internal matter for the UK”.

She said: “As for now, I think Scotland has not the competence to go into this EFTA but I think this is an internal matter for the UK, so I think Scotland should talk to the government in the UK about these matters.”

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Moreover, Ms Meland’s comments came as it was disclosed Ms Sturgeon had unveiled a report before the 2014 independence referendum that had warned against the so-called “Norway plan”, as it was not a “desirable option” from an economic or democratic standpoint.

Murdo Fraser, the Scottish Conservatives’ Shadow Finance Minister, said at the time: “Norway’s trade minister has now joined many other European figures in pointing out that a deal like this is simply not going to happen.

“And even if it were possible, the SNP government itself said only two years ago that it would not be right for Scotland.

“The SNP’s own analysis set out that EEA membership would deprive people in Scotland of any influence over EU laws and regulations.”

He urged the SNP to work with the UK Government to help get the right Brexit deal for the entire country rather than engaging in “pointless day trips to Geneva”.

In a recent interview with, historian and head of an Icelandic free-market think tank Hjörtur J. Guðmundsson insisted countries like Norway and Iceland will soon want to leave their current arrangements with the EU and strike something more similar to Britain’s trade agreement.

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He said: “In Norway, you now have political parties calling for Norway to reconsider membership to the EEA.

“They are calling for a comprehensive trade agreement, something similar to what the UK has negotiated with the EU.

“This is actually the form of trade agreement that most countries around the world are now asking for.

“They are waiting in line for it.

“They are not waiting in line for an agreement similar to the EEA.”

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